Mother Teresa’s Spiritual Director
Gets 25 Years for Sex Abuse
Margaret C. Galitzin
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Catching up with the case of Mother Teresa’s pedophile spiritual director, here is the latest news. On February 12, 2009, former Jesuit celebrity Fr. Donald McGuire received 25 years in prison on abuse charges. In this trial McGuire was punished for abusing just one boy repeatedly on religious retreats [watch this video]. |
At the trial, however, one victim after another – grown men now – came to the stand to testify against McGuire. The behavior of the white-haired predator was so scandalous, his demeanor so unrepentant, that US District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer gave him a sentence that exceeded federal sentencing guidelines, which is permissible only in extreme case.
Judge Pallmeyer gives Fr. McGuire the most severe sentence possible
The judge said what made his crimes especially detestable was that McGuire had abused the trust of parents and perversely taken advantage of them. She called his action "abhorrent," "unacceptable," and a "very, very serious sin."(1)
McGuire had already been convicted in 2006 of molesting two boys in Wisconsin, but was set free on parole awaiting an appeal to his case. He was jailed briefly twice for probation violations. Now it appears that finally the 78-year-old pedophile priest will serve a long sentence for his crimes.
During the trial, McGuire did not deny his guilt or proclaim his innocence. Angering family members of victims, he expressed no repentance for his crimes, offered no apologies. He sat expressionless.
However, after the trial, he paradoxically affirmed, “I’m free. I see the horizon - it’s Heaven, where every tear will be wiped away.” (2)
One can’t help but call such a comment stupid, since McGuire is not free here on earth - he just received a 25-year sentence. And most probably he will not be free when he appears before the heavenly Judge. If he does not repent before he dies, the place he will go will be much worse than a U.S. penitentiary. His time on earth would be better served recalling the curse Our Lord made regarding persons who committed that very crime for which he was convicted: “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged around his neck and he were cast into the sea, than that he should scandalize one of these little ones" (Lk 17:2).
Years of cover-up
It speaks volumes about the situation of the post-Concilar Church that in this case of a predator priest who abused their children, American Catholic parents could only find justice meted out in a civil court ruled over by a Protestant judge. So, we have a Protestant who was outraged enough to tell the criminal he committed an abhorrent sin - something the Catholic Church authorities never did publicly. Further, the behavior of such a priest during the trial was so repugnant to all that the judge raised the sentence to the highest possible term.
On the other hand, it is evident now that three separate Catholic institutions and 10 Church officials were aware of multiple reports of McGuire's abuse for many years - and did nothing. (3) Except, of course, to cover for him and allow the well-known Jesuit to continue his “spiritual ministry” around the world, all the while traveling openly with young boys.
An unrepentent McGuire calls himself "free"
Even after McGuire was convicted in 2006 of abusing two students at Loyola Academy on trips to Wisconsin in the 1960s, the cover-up continued. After his arrest, Church officials apparently misled the Wisconsin District Attorney, who was the prosecutor on the criminal case, claiming they had no further information regarding McGuire’s abuse history. (4)
Then in 2007, letters documenting complaints of multiple families were made public. They demonstrated that over the past two decades, Jesuit leaders were alerted many times about McGuire’s behavior – even as criminal suits were underway. The documents include letters from family members to top Jesuit leaders, as well as letters from Jesuit leaders discussing the problem. (5)
Because the Jesuits failed to act after the first report, the sexual predator had free access to young men for nearly 40 years.
McGuire is finally paying the piper for some of his crimes. But why don’t the accomplice ecclesiastic authorities also have to face consequences for the part they played in this debacle? As one of the victims at the trial told the camera, “McGuire’s sick, but they (the Church authorities) are the criminals.” (6)
Spiritual discernment lacking
One parallel point seems to deserve a comment. It is the topic of spiritual discernment, that is, the ability to distinguish between bad and good impulses under which individual persons act.
Such discernment was always considered indispensable for the direction of souls because unless one is able to determine whether or not a given person is acting under the spirit of God or the spirit of darkness, it is almost impossible to avoid error and even tragic mistakes. The founder-saints of great orders in the past always had this gift of spiritual discernment. (7)
Fr. McGuire spent much of his "career" directing retreats and giving spiritual advice to the laity and members of Mother Teresa’s religious order. One can only wonder about the discernment of Mother Teresa, who helped make Fr. Donald McGuire famous by asking him to be her spiritual director and having him orient her nuns.
1. “McGuire was today sentenced to 25 years in prison,” Chicago Sun Times online, February 11, 2009.
3. “Catholic Church Aware of Donald McGuire's Abuse of Young Boys,” Associated Content online, October 29, 2007
4. “Papers: Jesuits Were Warned about Abusive Priest,” NPR online, October 29, 2007
7. Antonio Royo Marin, The Theology of Christian Perfection (New York 1987 ), pp. 551-552.
Posted February 27, 2009
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